WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. — Moms in the Midlands are feeling the stress of the baby formula shortage.
As a result, some mothers in Lexington county are taking things into their own hands and turning to breast milk sharing.
"It's a great feeling. I know there's people out there in need and I know there's a lot of people who would like to breastfeed and can't and who would like to have formula and can't find it right now and so I'm just thankful that I've been able to breastfeed and that I was able to produce enough extra to give a little bit back," Krista Hinson, breast milk provider said.
Hinson has a baby that just turned one and she gave away her last batch of breastmilk Monday. Seventy-five ounces, which is about a three day supply to be specific.
She says she believes it's safe to share because she's been a donor to the Mother's Milk Bank of South Carolina for the last year.
"I did go through the process to become an approved milk bank donor, which included having blood tests done and every time they accept a donation they do test that milk. There's also restrictions on what you can and can't consume, any prescription medications and things like that," Hinson said.
Another mother from Chapin says she has 250 ounces of breast milk to give.
One of her donations this week ended up being to a former college classmate. She said it was an emotional exchange.
Experts say milk sharing can be safe.
"If there is informed consent, if there is an open and honest dialogue and conversation between the person who is donating and the person, the family that's receiving that milk, I think that it is a beautiful and wonderful gift that one parent can give to another. And when we're seeing unprecedented times with formula shortages and babies needing to be fed, I think that it is an option that many families should and are considering," said Karin Deligiannidis, international board certified lactation consultant.
But neonatologists warn of the risks.
"You lose control of how the milk is being handled and processed and the safety, so there's always a question of the safety of the milk," said Dr. Allison Chapman, neonatologist and Mother's Milk Bank of South Carolina medical director.
Lactation consultants recommend asking questions about medications, lifestyle, alcohol, drugs, caffeine, dietary restrictions, milk storage methods and expiration dates when considering accepting breast milk.
Chapman explains that milk bank breast milk is pasteurized.
Lactation consultants tell us there's a way to pasteurize the shared milk if families would want..